The researchers combined projections of the pace of climate change with descriptions of the climate suited to each species, with assumptions about how often and swiftly each species might move to expand its range. Assuming that species disperse once per generation suggests that species that mature slowly, like howler monkeys, would move less often and be slower to respond to changes in climate. Tiny animals like shrews are also expected to fare poorly, because while they might mature quickly and disperse often, they only travel short distances. And the model is conservative, assuming animals will always disperse in the direction most likely to benefit them, and at maximum speed.
“Conservation planners could help some species keep pace with climate change by focusing on connectivity—on linking together areas that could serve as pathways to new territories, particularly where animals will encounter human-land development,” lead author Carrie Schloss, a University of Washington research analyst in environmental and forest sciences, said in a press release. Furthermore, “reducing non-climate-related stressors could help make populations more resilient,” she added. “But ultimately, reducing emissions, and therefore reducing the pace of climate change, may be the only certain method to make sure species are able to keep pace with climate change.”